Download The Cockroach Papers: A Compendium of History and Lore by Richard Schweid PDF

By Richard Schweid

Skittering figures of city legend—and a ubiquitous reality—cockroaches are approximately as abhorred as they're old. while our efforts to exterminate them have built into ever extra complicated kinds of chemical conflict, roaches’ uncomplicated layout of six legs, hypersensitive antennae, and one set of voracious mandibles has endured unchanged for thousands of years. yet as Richard Schweid indicates in The Cockroach Papers, whereas a few species of those evolutionary superstars do certainly plague our kitchens and eating places, exacerbate our bronchial asthma, and hold ailment, our trust of their overall villainy is eventually misplaced.

touring from big apple urban to Louisiana, Mexico, Nicaragua, and Morocco, Schweid blends tales of his personal squirm-inducing roach encounters with meticulous examine to spin a story either funny and harrowing. As he investigates roaches’ extra nefarious interactions with our species—particularly with these people dwelling on the margins of society—Schweid additionally explores their extraordinary range, how they mate, what they’ll devour, and what we’ve written approximately them (from Kafka and Nelson Algren to archy and mehitabel). wisdom quickly becomes appreciate, and Schweid seems to be past his personal fears to reach at an uncomfortable fact: We people aren't any extra peaceable, tidy, or dependable approximately taking good care of the Earth or one another than those tiny creatures that swarm at nighttime corners of our minds, houses, and cereal boxes.

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Additional resources for The Cockroach Papers: A Compendium of History and Lore

Sample text

The roachdespite its hard shell and generally bad repute as a feelingless, insensitive piece of protoplasmis designed with some remarkably sensitive equipment, much more so than our own. The roach's senses are finely honed on a level we can hardly imagine (unless we are gifted with an imagination like Donald Harington's). Entomologists tend to play the wonder of insect antennae downsimple receptors for chemical signals, they will sayand over the years cockroaches have had their antennae Page 32 stimulated, deadened, amputated, grafted, injected, radiated, and dissected.

How is this initial direction of turn established? A major outcome of this work was to show that, when one antenna is touched, there is a lateralization of . . descending impulse activity in the large DMIs [descending mechanosensory interneurons]. . " wrote Shuping Ye and Christopher Comer in their discussion of the experiments in the JOURNAL OF NEUROSCIENCE. Of course, if a cockroach could read, the most disturbing phrase in the above material would be intact animals, and, in fact, the neuroscientists found that cutting the neural pathway resulted, not surprisingly, in the roach frequently turning toward rather than away from the touched antenna.

I spent many months of my life sleeping on the floor of that apartment, walking through the neighborhood, east to Greenwich Village, west to the Hudson River. I spent hours and days sitting on the stoop watching the weird world of the West Village go past. I was convinced that this was my life, and a worthy one at that, a conviction I can barely remember now. I can vaguely recall how it felt to feel that way, so certain then that so much idle time would bear fruit further down the road, but now all the days of those years are reduced to nothing but a black hole with shards of recollections scattered here and there, bits of colored cloth caught on the jagged edges of what passes for my memory.

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